Speaking of sustainability… Tunisia.
While I’ll defer to professor Cole for extended analysis, it’s rather glaring around the web that no one seems to know much about Tunisia, the Maghreb, or anything relevant to Le Monde Arab beyond the idiosyncratic locution of “the War on Terrorism.” I’ll add my ‘tender filings’ to the meager pile.
These actually consist of an acquaintance of a few dozen Tunisians, friendships with a few and ten days there in 2005. Tunis, the capital, is actually ancient Carthage; it’s about 90 miles from the westernmost tip of Sicily; Former French colony and so replete with period colonial layout and architecture; a deep sense of its history and of Arab culture; Islamic but largely secular; extraordinary life on the streets, especially the maze of shops and markets in la Medina of most cities. A highly educated population, a significant percentage of which is under forty. Great food, delicious wine. The seductive Arabic language. As a francophile, easy to fall in love with the place and the people.
But there are were pictures of President Ben Ali everywhere, in every single business with a door. A society secured by a police state. State controlled media. And the highly educated, multi-lingual populace was is largely without jobs or other future prospects equal to their wide-ranging abilities and expansive world views. Cafes full of smart people with no jobs. It didn’t add up, and most had understood this for a long time.
And now, as liberating as what’s going on there might sound, it is a very dark time for the people actually living there. I hope they make it through, and the army stands aside long enough for a legitimate civilian government to emerge. They’ve entered the crucible, but as the title to this post translates, they’ve had enough.